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Luke Study #141 – Important

The Gospel Of Luke

Luke 14:7-11 (CEV)

Jesus saw how the guests had tried to take the best seats. So he told them:

When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the best place. Someone more important may have been invited.Then the one who invited you will come and say, “Give your place to this other guest!” You will be embarrassed and will have to sit in the worst place.

10 When you are invited to be a guest, go and sit in the worst place. Then the one who invited you may come and say, “My friend, take a better seat!” You will then be honoured in front of all the other guests. 11 If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honoured.

Important

‘Honour’ is kind of an out-of-fashion word these days in Canada. Unless you’re talking about the military or the emergency services, I don’t really hear the word ‘honour’ all that much.

But I do hear the word ‘important’ an awful lot, in all sorts of forms.

“I want to be somebody.”

“I’m aiming for the top of the ladder.”

“I want to make it big!”

And the problem with this kind of thinking is that usually it’s found tied to our ability to say yes, or to our value as an individual, or to our willingness to care for those around us.

We end up with an ‘if’ before these sentences and a ‘then’ at the end that leaves us accidentally trapped in a prison of our own making. Like this:

If I want to be somebody, then I can’t afford to take time to rest.”

If I’m aiming for the top of the ladder, then I can’t care too much who I hurt along the way.”

If I have to make it big, then it won’t matter what values I sacrifice to get to there.”

Striving for importance makes it hard to focus the time and energy and resources we need to the process of Shalom-building – in our own lives, with our friends and family, and in our wider community and world.

Striving for importance makes it hard to care about our mental health, our physical well-being, digging in deep with community or growing spiritual roots that will leave us grounded and centred when pressures show up in life. It’s hard to rest, to reflect, to establish healthy rhythms or to develop rituals that will sustain us through the hard times.

Striving for importance makes it easy to loose sight of our families and friends. Their bids for our attention can oh-so-easily become barriers to our success, and they can move seamlessly from the reason we’re doing all of this to the thing that is stopping us from achieving our goals.

Striving for importance makes it almost impossible to notice the wider community and world that we live in, or the Shalom-building we are called to be a part of in this place. If we’re doing well, we might write it off as something that we’ll “get to” when we’ve “made it”, but it’s far more important that we become important than that we stop and have a chat with the person we pass who’s struggling or apply the creativity or skill that we’ve developed to a pressing local, global or international crisis.

The funny thing, of course, is that in the process of taking the time to care for ourselves, we may gain wisdom, insight, grounding and community that can fuel our efforts for the long term, making it less likely for us to burn out, and more likely for us to choose to do and be the people God made us to be.

In the process of caring for our families and friends, we may enable each of them to come closer to the kind of Shalom-filled life God always intended us to live.

And with all of that in motion (though not necessarily completed) we may find ourselves breathing hope and peace into the world around us, simply as a natural outflow of who God is helping us to become.

And if we do all of that, then it’s possible (though not the goal) that we will gain some level of recognition or importance or even honour.

But apparently like so many things in Jesus’ topsy-turvy Kingdom, the best way to get to the top is to choose to be at the bottom.

And you don’t hear that every day!Journal Questions:

  1. In what way do you dream or work at being important?
  2. How does the idea of ‘importance’ that our society holds so high impact your choices?
  3. How does the idea of ‘least’ that Jesus offers up impact your choices?
  4. Does the balance need to shift?
  5. What is one step you could take towards that this week?

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